Bolivia is one nation which has been through a lot of struggles. Be it the struggle for freedom from colonial Spanish rule or be it the struggle it is facing nowadays to reach economic and financial stability. Bolivia may be South America’s poorest nation, but in the last decade, the condition here has improved significantly. It might not be a very affluent and rich country, unlike many others, but this country boasts of a beautiful cultural heritage which has mesmerized tourists for long.
On one hand, the neighboring countries of Bolivia are overcrowded by tourists while on the other hand the beautiful travel destinations of this country still lie hidden from the eyes of many and hence, this beautiful nation is still not overstuffed with tourists and that make it an enticing tourist destination for many. Once believed to be one of the most prosperous lands in the New World, Bolivia slowly lost its everything to the hands of their cruel invaders. Bolivia boasts of at least 30 indigenous groups along with a good number of nationals of mixed race. Nowadays it’s also flourishing with a good amount of immigrant population. This diversity of population makes it one of the most multicultural countries of this world. It might be a socially and politically unstable nation, but it is also a very enlightening travel destination.
Bolivia in ancient times
The history of Bolivia does not start from the colonial rule of the Spaniards. It was a civilization for over 100 years before the Spaniards made it their colony by conquering it. People of Bolivia were very good artists and they have created some really beautiful pieces of architecture. The city of Tiahuanaco was established in around 400 B. C. in the place where Bolivia now stands. After 700 A. D., the empire of Bolivia along with Southern Peru was ruled under Tiahuanaco. The Tiahuanacos were not the only tribes living in Bolivia. The lowlands of this beautiful nation were occupied by the Moxos whereas another community Mollos used to live in the northern part of what is now La Paz. This went on for some time after which in around 1000 A.D. This great empire broke up and its place was taken by various small states. Then in 1300 came the Aymaras but did not last very long here. Then came the Incas who ruled this empire for some time after which it was conquered by the Spaniards.
Historians believe that the people of ancient Bolivia may have a very complex culture, but also they were way advanced for their time.
Bolivia in the colonial period
The Spaniards came to Bolivia looking for Gold and established many cities here such as the Chuquisaca in 1538, La Paz in 1548, Cochabamba in 1571 and Oruro in 1606. Many people are of the view that the Spanish rule was, on one hand, brutal but on the other hand very efficient also. One very famous example of the brutal nature of their rule came in the year 1545 when they found Silver in the city of Potosi. After the discovery of this silver, they started to use forced labor to mine this silver for themselves. A lot of people died during this process of forced mining.
A lot more died of various European diseases. For the next three hundred years, this country along with its inhabitants was exploited brutally for the sake of minerals as well as labor. The revenue generated through all this on the cost of all the lives that were lost was shipped across Atlantic. The city of Potosi was the largest as well the populated richest city along the Western Hemisphere during the colonial rule of Spain. All these led to anger in the Bolivian Indians and that resulted in a rebellion in 1780. The Indians were of the view that they could revamp the old Inca empire and overthrow this brutal and inhumane Spanish rule which is there just to loot them off their natural minerals and resources. The rebellion was crushed and it ended in 1782 due to disunity amongst the Indians.
When it became independent?
The anger of the people obviously didn’t die here and there was another rebellion once again in 1809. This rebellion was led by people of Spanish descent. All this began after the victory of Napoleon’s army over Spain. Napoleon dethroned the king of Spain and made his brother Joseph the king of Spain. A lot of South Americans saw this as an opportunity and the rebellion began, but soon it was crushed. The rebellion was crushed, but the battle for independence was unstoppable.
The fight continued and finally, the Spanish armies were defeated and in 1824 the Bolivian Independence was won. Simon Bolivar was the guy who was credited for this victory of Independence. He was a Venezuelan army General. He was so stuffed with his victory that he named the nation after his name. A period of great unrest followed the battle of Independence. The unrest was both domestic as well as amongst the newly created neighboring countries such as Peru and Chile.
In 1825, Peru invaded Bolivia and stole a large part of its land and made it it’s own. Chile fought the War of the Pacific against Bolivia in 1879 as it increased taxes on the Nitrate companies owned by Chile and was successful in defeating it. The already small nation of Bolivia was left even smaller as well as starved. It also became landlocked after losing the strip of coast, it used to control. The current economic struggles of this country can be traced back to these two events.
The current President of Bolivia, Evo Morales has successfully reduced the inequality, illiteracy along with poverty since the start of his tenure in 2005. The economy of Bolivia is currently the fastest growing economy in Latin America as it has raced past even Brazil. Bolivia accounts for nearly 40% of annual natural gas exports.
This beautiful country has fought its share of battles to gain its due share of recognition. It is a complex, enigmatic country which6has preserved its history and culture well inside itself.